Twine for Beginners

If you check out the list of interactive projects (ie. games) I’ve worked on, you’ll see that a lot of them were written using Twine. Twine is incredibly easy to pick up and use – even compared to other game-making tools commonly praised for their simplicity – but it never hurts to have a little extra help and so I’ve written a series of tutorials intended to give absolute beginners the know-how necessary to produce their first finished game.

These tutorials are arranged in order of complexity, but start out very simple indeed. I recommend at least taking a glance at the first one before tackling any others, but if you’ve used Twine before or you’re confident with computers in general then by all means skip ahead to whatever’s most relevant to what you want to make.

Getting Started in Four Clicks covers just that: how to get your first Twine story all set up, one step at a time. It also touches upon some very general guidelines on story structure that should help you plan and produce a complete, functional work of interactive fiction.

Using Variables is a direct step up from Getting Started, introducing simple tools to keep track of player choices. It includes examples such as a door that can be unlocked if the player picked up a key elsewhere in the story, and the same door falling apart if the player chooses to rattle it like an idiot a certain number of times because they don’t have the key.

Colouring Text offers a very basic method of colouring text that can be understood even without the other tutorials. For those more confident with Twine, it also includes some more advanced examples such as the “DANCE PARTY!!!” one illustrated here.

Styling Text is very similar to (and shares an example with) the colouring tutorial above. If all you want to do is produce text effects like the ones shown here, this is the only guide you need to look at. If you want even more control over the appearance of your text, it also gets into a little more detail later on.

Displaying Random Text explains the use of tools to generate text randomly, meaning that the story will (probably) be different every time the reader plays through. It can be read in isolation if that’s all you want to do, but also includes examples of how to randomly change variables which you’ll find more useful if you’ve already read the relevant tutorial on how to use those.

Timers and Live Text introduces ways in which you can display text and create new gameplay mechanics based on timers. The more complex examples involve variables and randomised text, but the simpler ones don’t depend on familiarity with any other features of Twine.

Importing Stories is a guide on a very useful feature of Twine: the ability to import existing stories so you can edit or learn from them. Using the information in this tutorial, you’ll be able to open up almost any of my own Twine pieces to see how they work (including the examples used in every other tutorial).

Pen and Paper Stories introduces absolutely nothing new about Twine itself, but describes a process that will allow you to convert your digital interactive fiction into a format that can be printed out and read in the style of the classic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.